Chapter 17

Ethan was writing down yet another equation when Eragoth stormed in, shooed everyone away and faced him.

“Follow me.” She ordered.

He complied immediately, but couldn’t help but wonder what she was up to this time.

“Where are we going?” He asked her as she led him through the convoluted tunnels of the massive cave system.

“I’ve been told you’ve been asking my people for enchanted items.” She commented while ignoring the question.

“Yes. I want to study them. I have reasons to believe that all forms of magic share a common make, and I wanted to prove that theory.” He explained.

“Then follow.” She didn’t explain further until they reached a wide cavern full of haphazardly strewn treasures.

There were piles upon piles of golden coins. Ancient-looking but well-preserved oil paintings depicting epic battles between legendary armies. There were hoards of jewellery and precious gems, and there were all kinds of enchanted weapons strewn about.

And were those suits of gilded plate-armour that moved?

“Do not fear the guardian golems. They will not hurt you, so long I’m here with you.” Eragoth said nonchalantly. “As for enchantments. Take your pick. Study anything you like.” She pointed around.

Shortly thereafter, he was on the ground panting from mana deficiency as his AI used [Analyse] on everything within range.

Countless enchantments had found their way into his database.

After taking a short break, it was time to study the golems in more detail.

“Can I study the golems?” He asked The Matriarch.

“Yes, but don’t try to mess with their make or they will attack you.” She cautioned.

He carefully approached a golem and ordered his AI to scan it with all available methods. A cone of blue light shone from his eyes and scanned the golem from head to toe. Eragoth yelped.

“Was that a spell?” She asked in bewilderment.

“Something like that.” He answered distractedly, deeply consumed by the task at hand.

He used [Analyse] on the golem to get a comparative point of view from the system.

Type Metal Golem
Role Treasury Guard
Name ???
Owner Eragoth
Creator Hakim Malek – [Grand Enchanter]
Age 820 years old
Quality Masterwork
Description A masterfully crafted enchanted suit of armour made especially to guard Eragoth’s hoard.
Maximum Health 11,489 HP
Enchantment Level Effect
Improved Defence 5 +5% to defence per level.
Damage Absorption 4 +2% to damage absorbed per level.

This made no sense! It was created 820 years ago for the specific task of guarding her hoard, yet Eragoth did not look to be a year over 24 at most.

Also there was one other thing that was kind of a big deal.

“Holy shit! What’s with that health!” He wondered aloud.

“Metal Golems cannot regenerate health. That is why they are made to withstand the test of time.” Eragoth said proudly.

“Who is Hakim Malek?” He asked her. The name sounded vaguely Arabic to his ears.

She looked shocked.

“How do you know of him?” She asked in bewilderment.

“I have a skill that tells me a surprising amount of information about anything I use it on.” He explained.

“I cannot tell you who he is.” She finally said.

“Is it a secret?” He asked.

“Something like that.” She shot right back at him.

“How old are you?” He asked her.

“That’s none of your business.” She said in a challenging tone.

He couldn’t hold his curiosity back and impulsively used [Analyse] on her.

Name Eragoth Species Human (Dragonkin)
Class (1st) Druid (Level 78) Strength (STR) 87
Class (2nd) Leader (Level 41) Vitality (VIT) 128
XP (Deferred) ??? (??) Dexterity (DEX) 70
AP/SP Available ?? AP / ?? SP Agility (AGI) 84
Health 2283/2283 (+??/min) Intelligence (INT) 121
Mana 2254/2254 (+??/min) Wisdom (WIS) 225
Age 1200 years old Charisma (CHR) 231
Affliction Level Description
Mutation (Draconian) 7 (12%) You have partially mutated into a dragonkin. If this condition progresses further, you will become a full-blooded dragon and will not be able to return to your original form.

This act had the immediate effect of making her hostile to him. Ethan looked in shock as she sprouted wings and a tail from her back and her hands turned into claws. She advanced on him.

“You should not have done that.” She bellowed with venom in her voice before charging in his direction.

It turned out that [Analyse] was not a covert action.

Uh oh.

Giran woke up to a splitting headache. Going down from a club to the head was not fun. She decided.

The last thing she remembered was being surrounded by spears and a Krell club hitting her in the head when she tried to bolt away.

After her vision cleared, she looked about herself and found that she wasn’t terribly injured. Then she discovered that she was trapped in a raised cage.

The second thing she noticed was that all her items were missing. Her bow and quiver, flint and steel, and even the Elven pendant her mother gave her before she died.

She was not particularly bothered by any of this, what bothered her the most was the creepy crimson vines that were covering the surrounding volcanic crater. They were almost pulsating with power, and every time she looked away they would move in the corner of her eye.

Oh yeah, and did she mention she was inside a volcano? One with a huge tree sprouting in the middle? And with tents covering the entire place as far as the eyes could see?

She was so screwed.

So this was what they’re up against from the beginning? The tree was inside the home of the Krell?

They were all so completely and utterly screwed.

She felt ashamed about her escape from the battle with the arachnoids. She had abandoned her friends and her lover. But no gold in the world could convince her to even look at those creatures.

She’d been an arachnophobe since she was a child. She had no idea how or why, she would just flip out and lose her mind any time she came into contact with anything spider-shaped.

She shuddered again as she thought the word.

Facing off against the Arachnapes was her worst nightmare, and it had to happen for real.

She cursed her rotten luck.

Not much time had passed since her waking up when she heard a commotion coming from far away.

Quickly the commotion got closer, till she could see a young man running like the devils were chasing him, he passed by her cage while screaming obscenities.

She’d never seen anyone moving with such speed and agility, and that’s coming from an experienced [Ranger].

Following the fleeing man came a winged woman that was flying in the air and slowly catching up to him. She was also screaming obscenities and panting with effort in between moments of breathing fire at his retreating back.

“What fresh hell is this?” Giran was asking herself, when a breath of fire barely missed her cage and hit the crimson vines behind her back.

Then she saw a scene she would never forget.

The vines moved.

Like lightning, they struck quickly and surrounded the winged woman, restraining and gagging her. Her protests and breaths of fire had no effect on the vines.

The fleeing man looked behind him then came to a stop. He stood before the woman.

“According to the system messages, I can control these vines. Now can we talk?” He asked.

Eragoth was trapped in the vines, and she was fuming.

They even prevented her from breathing fire or turning into a fully formed dragon somehow.

She was completely trapped by that stupid boy.

But he knew her secret! He had to be silenced!

The bastard had analysed her! She was shocked when she heard the voice telling her that she had been analysed, and even more shocked he had such an ability in the first place. It was almost like [Appraise], but it worked on people?

She kept struggling, as the vines constricted further.

“Look, it was an accident, okay?” He said, once more trying to reconcile.

“It just happened on impulse. I didn’t mean to uncover your secrets, and they’re safe with me!” He tried to mollify her.

She struggled some more.

“I’m sorry. Okay? I didn’t mean for things to happen like this.”

“Free me!” She tried to say, but it came out as muffled sounds.

She tried pointing. She thought he understood because he came closer and touched the vines gagging her mouth. Then he jumped away quickly.

The vines parted and she tried breathing fire yet again, but they constricted her chest when she tried to inhale.

“Let go of me!” She tried to bellow, but her voice came out in a whisper.

“I’ll free you now if you swear on your honour as The Matriarch of The Krell not to try to harm me.” He offered.

She hissed loudly in response to that.

Her tribesmen were gathering to observe the debacle now. It was only a few guardsmen, but they did not try to interfere.

She couldn’t let him do this to her in front of her people! If this was an official challenge to her authority… but no, she would never lose like this.

Thankfully, he wasn’t aware of their customs.

“Fine!” She finally whispered.

“Fine what?” Ethan pressed her.

“I swear on my honour not to harm you for this!” She gritted her teeth.

“Fair enough!” He decided.

The vines slowly let go of her.

“You idiot!” She bellowed in rage. She breathed fire into the branches of the giant tree far above. They were unaffected, although the vines moved menacingly.

She flinched back.

“Look, can we all calm down? I assure you we can talk our way through this.” He tried reasoning.

“What’s there to talk about? You transgressed on my secrets. Now you have to die.” Eragoth said menacingly.

“You promised on your honour not to harm me!” He protested.

“It seems I did, but who said I have to be the one to harm you? Restrain him!” She commanded the guardsmen.

They very reluctantly did so.

Ethan was back to square one.

He was currently tied and gagged inside a tent while Eragoth debated what to do with him with the elders in a different tent.

“Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.” He chastised himself. Why did he have to go and analyse her like that.

And everything was going so well too.

His [Analyse] skill had levelled up and he did learn a couple of things though.

The first was that The Matriarch had an extra character attribute that he did not have: Charisma.

Did that mean that extra attributes could be acquired somehow?

The second thing he learnt was that she was afflicted with a mutation that was turning her into a dragon.

Was that due to her nature as a [Druid]? If classes could affect you physically to that extent, it could be dangerous to go haphazardly about acquiring and interacting with them.

He thought her shapeshifting was cool though, if she wasn’t trying to kill him with it, that is.

Also, was she immortal? Or just really long-lived?

How did she manage to achieve such a feat and live for so long?

He’d have to find out. If he lived past this trial, that is.

He sighed as he heard multiple footsteps approaching his tent.

It was time to find out.

Name Ethan West Species Human
Class (1st) Harbinger – Science (Level 7) Strength (STR) 18
Class (2nd) Magineer – Chaos (Level 8) Vitality (VIT) 17
XP (Deferred) 1,056 (0) Dexterity (DEX) 19
AP/SP Available 0 AP / 0 SP Agility (AGI) 24
Health 173/173 (+1.7/min) Intelligence (INT) 24
Mana 263/263 (+2.4/min) Wisdom (WIS) 25
Title Description
Divine Lawbreaker You have broken a Divine Law and incurred the wrath of the heavens. Beware the consequences.

Skill Level Cost Description Origin
Analyse (Active) 8 (16%) 4 MP You analyse any object or living being, obtaining information about it. More details will be revealed as the level of this skill rises. [Scientist, Level 1]
Lecture (Passive) 5 (18%) You instruct another character on a subject. The level of knowledge conveyed and the success rate are limited by the level of this skill. [Harbinger – Science, Level 5]
Assemble Schematic (Active) 2 (27%) 15 MP You assemble a schematic quickly and efficiently. 10% Less material wasted per level. [Engineer, Level 1]
Adjust Entropy (Sustained) 6 (78%) ~ Adjust the level of entropy in a system or creation. 10% To effectiveness per level. [Chaos Engineer, Level 5]
Stabilise (Active) 2 (56%) ~ Allows you to stabilise any chaotic reaction, quickly bringing down the energy of an unstable system, chemical reaction, spell, or machine. [Chaos Engineer, Level 5]
Mana Manipulation (Passive) 2 (19%) The ability to manipulate mana is at the core of spell-casting. This skill governs how much mana your body can channel. 2% bonus to maximum mana per level. [Magineer – Chaos, Level 8]
Rune Mastery (Passive) 2 (13%) The ability to construct and maintain spell models in one’s mind is what governs Rune Magic. Your mastery over runes will increase with the level of this skill. Can control +2 extra runes per spell model per level of this skill. [Magineer – Chaos, Level 8]
Design Schematic (Active) 2 (43%) 100 MP Allows you to design a schematic. [Scientist, Level 2]